The Li Auto L8 Wants To Be An iPhone Pro
Issuing time:2022-10-06 21:45
What is it?
The Li Auto L8 is a large midsize SUV that rides on the same platform as the full-size Li Auto L9. We’ve covered the L9 extensively, and were very impressed by the amount of technology and features that it offered for around 70,000 USD. The L8 purports to do the same, but at a price of 50,000-56,000 USD.
The L9, but smaller
While we understand the need to build a brand identity through a shared design language, it’s possible Li Auto went a bit too far with the L8. Or, to be more precise, they didn’t go far enough. That’s because the L8 is essentially identical to that of the L9, both inside and out. At first glance, this seems like cost-saving gone wrong, but Li Auto says this is part of a much larger plan.
That plan is to turn their current and future lineup into iPhones. It goes like this, at the top of the iPhone pecking order you have the iPhone Max Pro (Li Auto L9), then the iPhone Pro (Li Auto L8), followed by the standard iPhone (the five-seat L7), and finally, the iPhone SE (their most affordable future model, the Li Auto L6). The differentiating factors between these models will be size, equipment level, and computing power. Meanwhile, the styling should be remarkably similar. Think Audi, but more so.
Sales strategy aside, it’s difficult to talk about this car without mentioning one of its most direct competitors, the XPeng G9. In reality, the upcoming L7, which is basically the five-seater version of the L8, is much more direct competitor for the G9, but that hasn’t kept both car enthusiasts and media from pitting the two against each other. If you’ve paid attention to the news, you’ll know that XPeng and Li Auto certainly see them as competitors as well.
Around the middle of September, about a day after the G9 officially hit the market, Li Auto decided to release the specs of the L8, including its ridiculous list of standard features. That announcement was months ahead of its previously stated schedule, so it’s hard to believe it was a coincidence. Perhaps even less of a coincidence is the fact that XPeng then saw a considerable number of people asking for a refund on their G9 deposits. A day or two after that, XPeng reshuffled the pricing and trim levels for the G9.
Goodbye single trim strategy
Li Auto’s previous models, including the predecessor to the L8, the Li One, and the L9, were only offered in a single trim. Added cost options were limited to electrically-operated running boards and exterior paint color. That strategy seems to have been a hit with customers, but it also meant that Li Auto left quite a bit of the market uncovered. With the L8, they are rectifying that by offering it in two trim levels; Pro and Max.
We’ll start with the long list of standard features available on every L8. For example, it retains the 13.25-inch HUD and six-inch steering wheel-mounted touchscreen of the L9, as well as the dual 15.7-inch screens in the front row. Those screens are LCDs, rather than the OLEDs of the L9, but they still use the same UI and feel just as quick. You also get a nearly identical audio system with Dolby 7.3.4 surround sound as standard.
The differences between the Pro and Max trims are mostly in the computing power of its ADAS and infotainment systems. The Pro, which serves as the base model, comes with a Horizon Robotics Journey 5 processor, and offers navigation on autopilot on the highway. The Max, on the other hand, has dual NVIDIA Orin X chips and an added LiDAR unit, so while it will also feature highway NOA when it debuts, that extra hardware means it Li Auto can unlock other driver assistance features in the future, like city NOA.
In terms of infotainment, the Pro comes with a single Qualcomm Snapdragon 8155 processor to power its four-screen system (HUD, steering wheel-mounted LCD, and dual 15.7-inch screens). The Max adds a second 8155 chip, because it adds a third 15.7-inch LCD screen mounted in the second row. That screen offers the same gesture controls as the one in the L9. Pro buyers might not get the second-row screen, but they do get a larger rear sunroof.
Also standard on every L8 is a generous amount of second-row head and legroom. Missing is the refrigerated and heated storage compartment of the L9, but the L8 does have rear storage solutions and AC controls. Despite its 3005mm (118.3 inches) wheelbase, third row space in the L8 remains modest. Third row passengers do enjoy heated seats and adjustable rake, but they may get a bit jealous of the heated, cooled, and massaging seats of the first two rows. They can take solace in the fact the L8 only has lower back massage, rather than the 10-point massage of the L9.
The L8 measures 5080mm (200 inches) in length, making it longer than both the XPeng G9 and the China-only, long-wheelbase version of the BMW X5. It is, however, a three-row vehicle, so you can't expect to have huge space out back. Still at about 511mm (20.1 inches) deep, it does have a decent amount of cargo room.
This sounds familiar…
The L8 has a nearly identical powertrain to the L9, which means it uses a 1.5L turbo 4-cylinder generator that powers front and rear mounted electric motors making a total of 330 kW and 620 Nm of torque, or 445 hp and 460 pound-feet. The only difference is the use of a 42.8 kWh battery pack instead of the 44.5 of the L9. As a result, it delivers an ever so slightly shorter pure EV range of 168 km on the WLTC cycle. It also uses the same air suspension with double wishbones up front and five-link in the rear.
Here in China, the L8 Pro will be priced at the equivalent of about 50,000 USD at current exchange rates, while the L8 Max, with its upgraded chips, LiDAR and extra screen will come in at around 56,000 USD. That price puts it in direct competition with the XPeng G9 and the NIO ES6. We think it will be extremely competitive in this segment, thanks to the level of standards features, but only time will tell how the brand fares with their “iPhone sales strategy.” All we know is that we don’t want to live in a world where cars are differentiated only by size and computing power, rather than styling.
Li Auto L8
Generator: 2.0T 4-cylinder
Total Range: 1100 km WLTC
CDM Price: 50-56,000 USD
Article classification: Hybrids